On day two of the Festival of Marketing 2020, Ashley Friedlein, founder of Econsultancy and Guild, chaired a discussion with the CMOs of two leading global companies – Tamara Rogers, CMO at GSK, and Julia Goldin, Global CMO at Lego – all about the subject of customer-centricity.

Here are a few key takeaways from the discussion, which touched on ownership of customer-centricity, how it feeds into agility and responsiveness, and what areas of customer-centricity GSK and Lego are looking forward to developing in future.

‘Connecting with human truth’

Friedlein kicked off the discussion by asking Rogers and Goldin about customer-centricity “as a phrase, discipline or topic, and how it manifests itself in your organisations.”

Lego CMO Goldin responded by talking about how customer-centricity is now a strategy that permeates throughout Lego, all the way from board level down to each and every employee.

“Our mission at the Lego group has always been to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow. We talk about children being our role models. Being child-centric is at the core of everything that we do. At board-level we are very focused on how we are developing our active base of kids around the world – looking at geographic, gender, and cultural representation. When it comes to markets and sales functions, they’re very orientated towards understanding the parents, the shoppers, and being really connected to them.”

“This customer-centricity has always been very important but maybe the very latest manifestation is that it is not just in our product development (which would be obvious) but also very much in our marketing, which we have switched completely in the last couple of years to audience-first. From a marketing perspective, both globally as well as locally, we’re orientated towards the audience that we serve – their passion points, how to connect with them, and how to have a dialogue with them.”

At GSK, Tamara Rogers explains how customer-centricity also feeds into the healthcare company’s purpose-driven mission of “helping people do more, feel better, and live longer.”

“We know that if we can be even more focused on understanding the un-met need, we can serve people better. And if we’re serving people better, we know we’re doing our very best for them.”

Tamara explains, “A couple of months ago, my CEO and I connected with a couple of consumers – one in India and another in Indonesia – and we were chatting about some of the healthcare challenges they face and really what that means for them in their everyday life. We are driving this all the way through the organisation – not only looking at data and reports, but really connecting with human truth.”

Agility has become a necessity

Lego’s Goldin says that agility has become a necessity, particularly for developing a product like Lego Super Mario, and executing its launch during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“In terms of responsiveness, I think it has always been a challenge for big companies, both in terms of being able to orchestrate something fast, as well as to be able to do something of high quality (especially when quality really matters).”

“From a marketing perspective,” she adds, “I feel we can move much faster; we have been on that journey, but we have also been pushed even more with Covid.”

“We very quickly realised that consumers needed to hear something else from Lego, and not just about the new products that we have planned.”

Goldin explains how Lego orchestrated and launched a campaign in just two weeks. “In March we launched the ‘Let’s Build Together’ campaign, which was not about pushing any products, but helping families figure out ways to keep their kids occupied and keep themselves mindfully healthy, and connecting with the bricks that they already had at home.”

 “That gave us the sense that we can do things in a fast and responsive way, so we are now bringing this responsiveness into a lot of our marketing planning.”

GSK CMO Rogers agreed that Covid-19 has spurred on companies (including GSK) to become more responsive in all aspects. “If we’ve learnt anything this year it’s about adaptability and flexibility and the ability to be more responsive. I think this year, Covid-19 has been a tragedy but an accelerator of all the things that I – and most people that I speak to in the industry – have been trying to drive.”

Moving from products to brand experiences

For GSK, looking to the future is also about asking the question: “How do you go from being a product on a shelf to an experience?”

Rogers explains that while healthcare is highly regulated, there are opportunities for GSK to go beyond compliance (and ensuring safety) and towards more helpful and exciting customer experiences. She cites the example of the recent launch of Voltaren in the US, and how the online experience was designed for people with osteo-arthritis and similar conditions in mind. “If you have challenges with osteo-arthritis, and your hands don’t operate well, scrolling on a site is actually quite challenging. So we tried to design that so you can almost scroll with your eyes.“

“We’re trying to think ‘how can you bring your brand to life in the experience’. Not just the physical experience of the product, but how you show up on your mobile experience, your web experience or your comms experience in a way that fully lives up to that brand purpose.”

For Lego, the future is also about digital opportunities that benefit its core audience. Goldin says, “The future is amazing because of the number of possibilities that digital platforms and analytics provide for us to really understand and cater to our audiences.”

“We are very fortunate to have very strong digital platforms of our own. We’ve just hit 10 billion views on our YouTube channel, and it’s not just because of what Lego does, but because there are so many people around the world who want to post about it. But the one area I wanted to talk about is children – that’s what I am excited about the most. Because kids crave digital experiences, we all know that, and most of them are not safe.”

“We have a responsibility and an opportunity to provide a truly safe platform for children, where they can connect with others, where we can cater to their needs – we can serve them up all kinds of physical and digital experiences.”

Lego already has Lego Life, which is a social app for kids to share their Lego creations within a moderated community. However, Julia hints that there are bigger and better opportunities afoot.

“Our ability to be able to do that now in a world of digital evolution, analytics, Al – it’s not going to be an easy thing to do because safety is so important, but I think it’s one of the things we should do, and if we do, it will benefit so many kids around the world. We already have millions of kids on the platform, but we have a lot of ambition to engage as many as possible and to create a true community for them globally.”

A Guide to Customer Experience Management (CXM)